Catering to Gen X
This growing consumer force is beginning to enjoy the finer things
The nation's 80 million Generation Xers will have a total income of $1.8
trillion by the year 2001, and they want to live well and enjoy life. This
information surfaced at a recent Wine Business Education Seminar for wine
marketing executives sponsored by Sonoma State University's School of Business.
What can jewelers learn from the wine industry?
Participants learned that Gen-X makes up the largest segment of America's
population. "It's imperative to recognize that Generation X is not
a life stage, but it's a birthgroup ultimately moving through stages in
life," says Joel Quigley, executive director of Wine Brats, an organization
formed to promote wine to young adults. Generation X comprises people born
between 1961 and 1981, the 18-to-38 age group.
Darryl Roberts, publisher of WineX Magazine,whose target audience
is Gen X, says marketing to young people must be all about lifestyle. Quigley
agrees: "Their philosophy is to work hard and enjoy themselves. They
saw Grandpa save all his life, never take a trip, retire so he could go
around the world and then drop dead six months later."
It's important for retailers to reach this group now because consumption
habits are set by the time a person reaches the mid-20s. "They fall
back on something they feel comfortable with," says Roberts. "If
they drink beer now, they'll continue to drink beer because that's comfortable
for them." Perhaps the same thing could be said for jewelry: if you
can get Gen X customers hooked young on buying fine jewelry, it will be
a lifelong passion.
Here are some tips the panelists offer on attracting Gen-Xers:
- Staff. Hire and train Gen Xers to sell to their own age group.
Make sure the staff has a casual attitude. Dress like Gen X neat
and hip, but generally more casual than older folks.
- Find out what they want, what they know. Some Gen Xers don't
know much yet about buying the finer things in life, so ask basic questions:
How much do you want to spend? What do you prefer? What's the occasion?
Don't overwhelm them with technical information.
- Atmosphere. Make your store's appearance more casual. Intimidation
is a big negative with any group, but especially Gen X.
- Pricing. Gen Xers may spend only $6 for wine to go with pizza
Wednesday night, but they'll also spend $35 for wine for a special occasion.
The key is value. How can jewelers translate? Have the best-quality and
most fashion-forward silver jewelry in your town, but try to tempt your
younger customers to trade up to gold and platinum. For special occasions,
they may take the bait.
- Education. Conduct in-store classes for Xers. Make your mailers
and other advertising conversational. Printed material doesn't need to
be humorous though that's not a bad idea but it should be relaxed
- Promotions. Make your promotional and advertising material short
and to the point. Gen Xers have to take in massive amounts of information
in a short time, digest it, analyze it and then make a decision. Don't
waste their time with fluff.
- Interact. When speaking with Gen X, show intelligence without
intimidation or worse, condescension.
by Jack Heeger
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.